BRUSSELS, March 21, 2016 – Belgian police confirmed that they are searching for a new suspect linked to the November Paris attacks. Salah Abdeslam, the terror suspect Belgian police captured last week, gave investigators the name of Najim Laachraoui as an accomplice.
Police previously confirmed that an alias of Laachraoui, Soufiane Kayal, was used to rent a villa in Auvelais, Belgium, which was used by the attackers.
Laachraoui, was one of two men using fake Belgian identity cards who were with Abdeslam in a Mercedes on Sept. 9 as they passed through a checkpoint between Hungary and Austria.
Authorities discovered Laachraoui’s DNA at the villa and also at a house in Brussels which was searched last December. Abdeslam’s fingerprints were found at the house on Rue Henri Bergé — one of several tantalizing but frustrating clues that turned up during the four-month hunt for him that ended on Friday.
Along with Laachraoui, authorities are also searching for Mohamed Abrini, 31, who was recorded by a surveillance video camera with Abdeslam two days before the Paris attacks — at around 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 — at a gas station in Ressons-sur-Matz, France, on the highway to Paris.
Abdeslam was arrested in a gun battle in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek on Friday and has been charged with participation in a terrorist murder and taking part in the activities of a terrorist organization. The 26-year-old, who evaded authorities for more than four months, is fighting extradition to France, said his lawyer, Sven Mary.
Belgian investigators believe that Laachraoui spoke to some of the jihadists by phone on the evening of the attacks targeting the Bataclan concert venue, restaurants, bars and the Stade de France stadium.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders spoke during a press conference saying that as a result of Abdeslam’s arrest, law enforcement has recovered a mass quantity of weapons. Belgian State Security Chief Jaak Raes told CNN Belgian affiliate VTM News on Sunday that taking Abdeslam alive had been “of the utmost importance” because it allowed authorities to “try to reconstruct the entire scenario.”